St. Patrick´s Day: meaning, origin and why is it celebrated today
Today is St. Patrick's Day and many are hoping to celebrate big after two years of the pandemic dampening celebrations. What is the origin of the holiday?
Today is St. Patrick's Day, so grab some green garb and strap in as we dive into the history of this Irish holiday.
Who was St. Patrick?
St. Patrick was a born in 385 AD and is known as the 'Apostle of the Ireland.' Most historians believe that he was born in Roman Brittan or modern day England.
Some historians trace the history of the holiday to the bringing of Catholicism to Ireland by St. Patrick. At the time that Catholicism was introduced, many on the island followed pagan religions and were allowed to carry on with their customs. This history helps to explain why the holiday is different from other Catholic celebrations.
The holiday in its more modern form became a mainstay in Irish culture as a feast day in the seventeenth century. However, for many many years as Irish diasporas grew in other countries, the holiday became much more widely celebrated in those areas.
The first St. Patrick's Day celebration was not held in the Republic of Ireland until the late 1990s. It was at this time that the national government of Ireland began to use the day as a way to represent Irish culture and heritage to the rest of the world.
This trend followed in Northern Ireland, which is still a part of the United Kingdom. During "the troubles" St. Patrick's Day celebrations had been the targets of violence. In 1976, British loyalists deployed a car bomb outside of a gathering which killed four civilians which made many afraid of hosting larger parties and celebrations. However, today communities across Northern Ireland are able to host celebrations that aim to build connections between communities of different faiths and backgrounds.
There are various reasons wearing green became a central part of the holiday. The exact origins of this part of the tradition are unknown. Some believe that it relates to Ireland's nickname, the Emerald Isle as its geography is marked by roiling green hills. Another possibility traces the tradition to the myth that St. Patrick himself carried around a three leafed clover.
Parades and other festivities
Across the world, festivities will take place starting today through this weekend.
Beer drinking is typically a big part of the holiday and parades are common in many Irish communities. A sort of odd tradition in many cities around the world, like Chicago, dye their river green.